We say that Hambledon Vineyard’s English Sparkling Wine is Shaped by Nature, Crafted by Hand ®- a serendipitous combination of our unique and prized chalk terroir, and the experts behind crafting the final product.
But what is terroir? One could argue that terroir is foundational to the character of a wine, from soil type, to climate, and vineyard location- the terroir describes the entirety of the vine’s surroundings. Ours is something that we prize. Located on Belemnite chalk, the same that was formed on the seabed of the Paris Basin some 65 million years ago, our subsoil boasts the same chalk content as some of the best chardonnay areas of the Côtes des Blancs in Champagne. This creates the best environment for growing our vines.
First and foremost, chalk has excellent drainage capacity ensuring a stable and healthy environment for vines to grow. With high permeability, water can easily progress through the soil, which prevents water accumulation and reduces the risk of vine disease caused by waterlogged soils. Additionally, this facilitates access to nutrients and moisture as water does not sit around roots, depriving them of oxygen. The porosity of the soil is another key factor in its climatic regulation, preventing overheating in summer months, and insulating the roots in the winter. For an English Vineyard, the reflectivity of the chalk is particularly advantageous. Hambledon Vineyard enjoys high insolation due to our south-facing vineyard, located close to the sea, yet shielded from harsh winds by the Isle of Wight- this sunlight is reflected off the soil, back onto the vines. This facilitates the photosynthesis of the vines, and the ripening of the grapes as we approach harvest. Ultimately, the chalk facilitates an ideal growing environment for our grapes.
Beyond the more technical attributes of our terroir, chalk is a key friend to Chardonnay, the backbone of our Finest English Fizz. At the source, the limestone in the soil helps to maintain a consistent pH level and providing a steady source of calcium for the vines. This results in grapes that are high in acidity- which is essential for making high-quality sparkling wine. The unique properties of the soil contribute a subtlety of flavour to the wine, integrating into the profile a crisp acidity and distinctive minerality to the wines.
English sparkling wine needs to age- for a minimum of nine months, in fact. However, at Hambledon Vineyard, we age our Cuvées on the lees for a minimum of 35 months. Our terroir meant that we were able to cut our cellars directly into perfect white chalk, which keeps our bottles away from potentially harmful sources of light and temperature variations but also maintains humidity levels that prevent spoilage or oxidation.
Our terroir boasts remarkable technical attributes, but it is the prized chalk that adds a distinctive aesthetic charm to our cherished home at Hambledon Vineyard. The striking chalk roads winding through our vineyard, the chalk wall leading down to our cellars and the chalk rocks that glisten on frosty mornings serve as indispensable features, defining the character of our vineyard.
Book your tour of Hambledon Vineyard now, to discover more about how our Finest English Fizz is made.